Guest Writer: Storm Constantine

moonshawlStorm Constantine has written numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction, and a plethera of short stories. Her fiction titles include the best selling Wraeththu trilogies and stand-alone novels, Hermetech, Thin Air, and the Grigori Trilogy. Her esoteric non-fiction works include ‘Sekhem Heka’ and ‘Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana’.

stormIn 2003, Storm set up her own publishing company, Immanion Press, initially to publish her own work but soon expanding to include such well known names as Tanith Lee and Freda Warrington. She then set up a non fiction imprint of Immanion Press, Megalithica Books, which covers books on magic and occultism. She was also the moving force behind the magazine “Visionary Tongue”.

Storm’s latest publication is The Moonshawl; a standalone story, set in the world of her ground-breaking, science fantasy Wraeththu mythos. Available HERE

Storm, Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I have written around 30 books, including sf, horror and fantasy novels, short story collections and some non fiction works. Been writing all my life. Am the owner of small publisher Immanion Press.

How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I’ve been writing since I could first chip stone from a cave wall… er use a pen.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing, and does it come in useful for your stories?
I like watching movies, visiting ancient sites, reading, listening to music, having meals with friends and my most guilty pleasure, playing MMOs like World of Warcraft. All of these contribute to my writing. I find inspiration everywhere.

What is at the root of your current book/story?
My latest novel, ‘The Moonshawl’ was inspired by my adoration of traditional ghost stories and also a fascination with Welsh mythology.

Ebooks or Traditional?
Both. I love having a book I’ve written as an artefact in my hand, but it’s pointless to fight the tide. Ebooks are here to stay, and quite honestly their sales (for me at least) outstrip sales of printed copies.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I think way back when I was first beginning to write seriously, I read somewhere – or was told – that I must read and read and read, and analyse the writing, deciding what works for me and why, and what I hate and why. Learn the craft, basically.

Is there any genre or style of writing you haven’t tried yet but would like to?
I wish I could write some offensively twee chicklit, which would then sell bucketloads, but I know I just couldn’t and no matter how it started out, it would inevitably become a horror story, because I’d hate the characters that much.

Name your superpower and why that one.
I’d quite like some sort of smiting skill, where I can hold up a hand and fire would jet out of my palm and fry someone. But I’m not evil, so the effect must only be temporary. When I smite them, they’re removed to an alternate dimension for some time, to sit in a dull waiting room and listen to terrible music.

What’s the most important thing you have learned about writing?
Learn the language and how it works. Grammar, syntax and punctuation are the tools of your trade. So many people think they can write when in fact they can barely string a sentence together, never mind make the words sing. Disappointing purchases on the Kindle store from self published writers are the sad evidence of this.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most tricky?
I can feel overwhelmed by a novel – not at the start when you set out on your path, and everything’s all new and exciting, but a few chapters in, when you suddenly realise you’re juggling a thousand balls, or plot points, and everything seems so complicated. And is this really three books, not one? Eventually, things fall into place and it’s not daunting, but for me there’s always that dark night of the soul period when it all seems terrifyingly difficult.

Do you have music playing when you write? What are your tracks of choice?
I have to work in silence. Even my husband asking me if I want a cup of tea can make me snap. The cats have learned to keep away when I’m writing.

Romance: Pride and Prejudice or Fifty Shades?
Pride and Prejudice. The other isn’t really a book.

Which of your previous works are you most proud of, and are there any that you would like to forget about?
There are none I’d like to forget about but I think the Magravandias Chronicles were among the best constructed, narrative wise.

Who has been your favourite character from your book/series and why?
Don’t really have one, I’ve loved and hated a few!

Do you have a typical writing day?
No, ha ha

Do you have any particular preparations for warming up the writer-brain, or get stuck straight in?
I have to be in the mood, but this can be forced sometimes, simply by rereading a previous day’s work and tinkering with it. But occasionally, I just can’t get into it, so go and do something else until the muse returns.

Crime: Poirot or Dragon Tattoo?
Dragon Tattoo

What was the first (*genre ) story you read and what kind of impact did it make on you?
The first sf/fantasy writer I read was Michael Moorcock, and I just devoured everything of his I could get my hands on.

What one genre/plot cliché would you get rid of?
There are certain mannerisms which have become cliches in writing – such as an astonished person dropping a cup/glass/plate. Have you honestly ever seen anyone do that? I also think that in certain terrifying situations, people are more likely to try and hide and remain silent than scream their heads off.

If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you choose and how would they die?
The entire character list of 50 Shades of Sh*te, and its myriad derivatives, would be rounded up and released into a wilderness, and then hunted down by people in Jeeps with guns, sort of like a naff character safari.

Have you ever included people you know (disguised or not) in your fiction?
Little bits of lots of people I know inevitably creep in, and occasionally I’ve deliberately given cameos to friends in my novels, but other than that, not one big character based on someone I know.

Fantasy: Lord Of The Rings or Howl’s Moving Castle?
Lord of the Rings

What are you currently reading?
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (I have a day time book for coffee breaks and a night time book for reading in bed).

Who are some of your favourite authors and what is it about their work that appeals?
Alice Hoffman, Meg Wolitzer, as mentioned above for their incredible skill with words. Tanith Lee for her amazing imagination. There are a lot more but those are the major ones.

Comic: Batman or Fables?
No idea what Fables is, so can’t comment.

Do you have a soundtrack for your work ?
There tend to be certain tracks I listen to that give flavour to what I’m writing and kind of form a soundtrack. I can listen to those tracks and slip into the world of the fiction. But not when I’m actually writing.
What/when was the first piece of fiction you wrote? And what happened to it? (Be honest now!)
It was an illustrated story about a dog called Solak (from one of my mother’s childhood girls’ annuals) going back to Ancient Egypt and meeting mummies and cat-headed people and so on. I must have been 5 or 6 years old. There was also another character, a fox, whose name I can’t remember. Sadly, this monument of literature did not survive!

Oxford commas – discuss!
I’m pretty old-fashioned in my use of commas, as I see punctuation as speed limit sign posts that guide the reader’s eye, the pace at which they read. It helps people to read the prose as you intended it to be read. Gives clarity. Good punctuation also gives drama to a piece of writing. Editors have often removed my commas, and when I edit other people’s work, I tend to put more in!

What are you up to next?
Just finishing off some short stories for various projects and then plan to start on a new novel. I’m currently editing a new Tanith Lee book, which is a series of stories set in an imaginary French city.

The Immanion Press web site is

My (Storm’s) own web site is here (constantly under construction as I have to do it myself using some very clunky tools provided by my domain hosting people).
The blog can be found via a link on my web site. Again, I’m bad at updating it, although I try not to let months lapse between posts now. I did say ‘try’.
I’m on Facebook as Storm Constantine.
I despise Twitter as I hate the word restriction. I’m too verbose!
I’m also on Goodreads as Storm Constantine and answer reader questions there.

The Moonshawl by Storm Constantine

moonshawlYsbryd drwg… the bad ghost Ysobi har Jesith embarks upon a job far from home, where his history isn’t known – a welcome freedom. Hired by Wyva, the phylarch of the Wyvachi tribe, Ysobi goes to Gwyllion to create a spiritual system based upon local folklore, but he soon discovers some of that folklore is out of bounds, taboo… Secrets lurk in the soil of Gwyllion, and the old house Meadow Mynd, home of the Wyvachi leaders. The house and the land are haunted. The fields are soaked in blood and echo with the cries of those who were slaughtered there, almost a century ago. In Gwyllion, the past doesn’t go away, and the hara who live there cling to it, remembering still their human ancestors. Tribal families maintain ancient enmities, inspired by a horrific murder in the past. Old hatreds and a thirst for vengeance have been awoken by the approaching feybraiha – coming of age – of Wvya’s son, Myvyen. If the harling is to survive, Ysobi must help him confront the past, lay the ghosts to rest and scour the tainted soil of malice. But the ysbryd drwg is strong, built of a century of resentment and evil thoughts. Is it too powerful, even for a scholarly hienama with Ysobi’s experience and skill? The Moonshawl, an artefact of protection, was once fashioned to keep Wyvachi heirs from harm, but the threads are old and worn, the magic fading, and its sacred sites – which might empower it once more – are prohibited. Only by understanding what the shawl symbolises and how it once controlled the ysbryd drwg can Ysobi even attempt to prevent the terrible tragedy that looms to engulf the Wyvachi tribe. ‘The Moonshawl’ is a standalone story, set in the world of Storm Constantine’s ground-breaking, science fantasy Wraeththu mythos.

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